When it comes to being environmentally friendly, font type is not usually something that warrants consideration. Many environmental activists have voiced concerns about an overuse of paper and printing technology, but few have expressed just how much specific fonts can make a difference in terms of going green.
The relatively novel idea that changing fonts could help save millions of dollars while having a positive impact on the environment came from an unlikely source: a 14-year old student at a Pittsburgh-area middle school.
The student, Suvir Mirchandani, discovered a method to reduce the use of ink while working on a school science project. Mirchandani found that using certain typefaces reduces the amount of ink used, an easy switch that can easily save tons of money on printing costs.
According to CNN, Mirchandani found that if his school district used the font Garamond in its papers and documents, it could reduce its ink consumption by 24%. Based on average ink costs, this would save the school district up to $21,000 each year.
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Mirchandani published his findings on the Journal of Emerging Investigators, which ultimately caught the attention of the federal government. Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office, even called his work “remarkable.”
CNN expanded on these findings:
Using the General Services Administration's estimated annual cost of ink -- $467 million -- Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% -- or $136 million per year. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also jumped on board, he reported.
Still, Somerset maintained that the government’s current priority is transitioning from print to digital.
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“In 1994, we were producing 20,000 copies a day of both the Federal Register and Congressional Record. Twenty years later, we produce roughly 2,500 print copies a day,” Somerset said.
In response to that statement, Mirchandani maintained that his findings would still be useful.
“They can’t convert everything to a digital format; not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed,” Mirchandani said.